“Have you ever seen ‘The Blind Side’ movie?”
That’s certainly one of college football’s most unique recruiting pitches.
And it’s used with effectiveness by Hugh Freeze, the first-year coach at Ole Miss. Freeze has a special connection to the 2009 movie: He was the real-life high school football coach of Michael Oher, the movie’s central character who was a “homeless and traumatized boy who became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of caring woman and her family.”
Just about every sports fan — including many football prospects — has seen the inspirational Hollywood flick. The film’s popularity helps recruits remember Freeze when they are bombarded with attention from dozens of college coaches.
“No doubt, it helps … it’s an instant icebreaker for our assistant coaches or me, particularly for kids who have not heard of Hugh Freeze outside of the states of Mississippi, Tennessee or Arkansas — places I have coached,” Freeze told the AJC.
“I think everyone has at least knowledge, if not seen the movie ‘The Blindside,’ the story of Michael Oher, which is a great introduction to who we are and how we want to go about treating your young son if he joins us. I definitely think it’s something we should use [in recruiting].”
Freeze said if a recruit doesn’t bring it the topic in the initial conversations with a blue-chip prospect, he will. “It’s going to get discussed.”
Why not carry around DVD copies of the movie when making in-home visits with recruits? Freeze said he has never gone that far.
“I haven’t done that. But Michael Oher did an interview not too long ago, which he gave me an enormous amount of praise about our relationship and how he thinks I will do at Ole Miss. We’re certainly going to have that with us [while recruiting].”
Under Freeze, Ole Miss has made recruiting the state of Georgia a priority. This past weekend, two of the nation’s top five prospects (and both from Georgia), Grayson DE Robert Nkemdiche (ranked No. 1 by ESPNU, undecided) and Milton DE Carl Lawson (ranked No. 5, committed to Auburn), both made unofficial visits to Ole Miss for the spring game.
“There are some players in Georgia,” Freeze said. “I think there are three things a kid should choose a college for: No. 1, your chances for academic success, No. 2, your chances for athletic success. Let’s not kid ourselves, and I’ll probably be the only coach that tells them this: Academically, there’s not a school in the SEC that does not have the resources to be good there. So that’s kind of a wash, unless a kid wants to do a specific program that a college excels in.
“Most of the kids we recruit, if they are going to have success at Georgia, they can have success at Ole Miss, and vice versa. Secondly, as far as athletic opportunities, there’s no greater place in the SEC right now to have a better chance to impact than ours right now. But I think the No. 3 thing they should consider that really makes you the best at items 1-2, is choose the right environment for you. The reality is, we’re probably not going to be the right fit for everybody, and they’re probably not going to be the right fit for us. I really believe strongly in getting the right fit for your core values, who you are, and the philosophy to which your program is going to build on.
“You’re not going to be 100 percent in that. But I firmly believe that. I think the environment that we are going to create will attract a certain type of kid. That, combined with an athletic opportunity to compete early, be a trendsetter and trailblazer, and help us do something special here … hopefully will attract some of those Georgia kids to come with us.”
HOT OFF THE PRESSES …
AJC’S INSTANT RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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